The S$6.5 million (approximately US$4.8 million) Carbon Zero Grand Challenge seeks to incentivize innovative solutions that can help PUB achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century and scale to water facilities around the globe. PUB is seeking carbon capture, utilization, removal, and other solutions at any technology readiness level that can be integrated with its operations and reach commercial scale within a decade or sooner.
The grand challenge will have two phases of competition and a pilot-scale demonstration over approximately 45 months. In the Proposal Phase, solvers will submit a detailed proposal addressing net carbon abated, cost, and other critical aspects of their solution. Up to six will be awarded S$250,000 each to develop a Proof of Concept. In the Proof of Concept Phase, solvers will develop a desktop simulation and/or lab-scale study and a detailed design for a pilot project. Up to two will be awarded S$2.5 million each to demonstrate a ~1 kiloton-scale version of their solution at a PUB facility in Singapore.
Click the Guidelines tab to learn more about this challenge and help us take the world’s water to net zero emissions and beyond!
As an island city-state, Singapore’s geography inherently limits its access to natural resources. For this reason, Singapore has always been an innovator and a leader in identifying clean, efficient, and cost-effective solutions for energy, water, and the environment.
PUB, Singapore’s national water agency, manages the nation’s water supply, water catchment, and used water in an integrated way. In 2020, PUB also took on the responsibility of protecting Singapore’s coastline from sea-level rise as the national coastal protection agency.
The global water sector contributes approximately 5% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but has not yet received significant attention in climate debates. Although Singapore’s local water sector’s emissions represent less than 1.5% of the city-state’s total emissions, in today’s climate, every contribution counts.
The Sixth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that was published in August this year, reinforced the reality that urgent and aggressive action is needed to keep global temperature rise below 2°C, as committed to in the Paris Agreement. Every sector must play its role, including the water sector. That is why PUB has set a goal to achieve net zero carbon emissions by mid-century.
The Carbon Zero Grand Challenge seeks to focus the attention of innovators, investors, and thought leaders on water sector emissions in order to accelerate the deployment of innovative solutions to address Singapore’s net zero carbon emission goals and scale to water facilities around the globe.
Emissions to be Addressed in this Grand Challenge
As an organization, PUB’s emissions in 2020 is approximately 460 kt CO2e. To achieve its net-zero goal, PUB will need to implement new technologies and solutions to address emissions associated with its water facilities. PUB has built a robust and diversified supply of water, including NEWater facilities that recycle used water and desalination facilities that convert seawater to drinking water (see FIGURE 1).
However, many of these processes are inherently energy-intensive and PUB’s emissions are projected to increase with population rise and economic growth in the coming decades. By mid-century, emissions could double to 1 MtCO2e.
PUB is already working to reduce its carbon footprint by replacing carbon-emitting energy sources with solar PV deployed on facility rooftops and at reservoirs, and reducing carbon emissions through energy efficiency, lowering desalination energy and conservation. These efforts are expected to abate approximately 600 kt CO2e/year of emissions by mid-century.
This grand challenge will offer up to S$6.5 million (approximately US$4.8 million)2 in awards and an opportunity to demonstrate a pilot-scale version of the solution at a PUB facility in Singapore.
Solvers will be selected for an award at the end of the Proposal Phase (up to 6 winners with S$250,000 each) and at the end of the Proof of Concept Phase (up to 2 winners with S$2.5 million each). To receive an award, solvers must accept the Conditions of Contract. See the Conditions of Contract template here. Solvers will not receive the total award funding upfront when the award is announced; rather, solvers will propose (and PUB will need to approve) a payment schedule based on key technical milestones for personnel and reimbursable expenses associated with activities that will be conducted in the subsequent phase. The payment schedule and reimbursable expenses will be part of the submission requirement for each of the two phases of competition.
For example, Solver A is selected for an award based on their Proposal Phase submission. Solver A is now eligible to receive up to S$250,000 over the course of the Proof of Concept Phase. In their Proposal Phase submission, Solver A proposed S$50,000 for reimbursable expenses and two payments for personnel based on technical milestones: one for S$50,000 that occurs when the lab-scale equipment has been set up and one for S$150,000 that occurs when Solver A submits their Proof of Concept Phase submission. If PUB agrees to this payment schedule and Solver A meets both milestones and provides receipts/invoices for the reimbursable expenses, Solver A will receive all payments, totaling S$250,000.
TABLE 4 summarizes the award distribution.
Award Distribution for the Grand Challenge
|Awardees||Total Amount Available||Amount Available Per Awardee||Payment Schedule|
|Proposal Phase Winners||S$1,500,000||S$250,000 |
X 6 awards
|Based on milestones and reimbursable expenses proposed by the solver and approved by PUB; all milestones and reimbursable expenses must be completed by the Proof of Concept Phase submission deadline (March 2023)|
|Proof of Concept Phase Winners||S$5,000,000||S$2,500,000 |
X 2 awards
|Based on milestones and reimbursable expenses proposed by the solver and approved by PUB; all milestones and reimbursable expenses must be completed by the end of the Pilot Project (Q3 2025)|